Jump to content

HEY, LISTEN! PLEASE READ THIS

 

HEY, welcome back to GP! You should probably check this thread out here if this is your first time back on the forum since our upgrade. Suffice it to say, some things have changed! CLICK HERE to read more about it, including some new functionality.

Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
    19
  • comments
    74
  • views
    45,190

Spec Ops: The Line Review and GIVEAWAY

Sign in to follow this  
Harrison Lee

3,510 views

DISCLAIMER: As I wrote this review, I found it difficult to put into words the emotions I felt from playing Spec Ops: The Line. As such, prepare for a lot of anecdotal discussions and open-ended questions. While this may be a review, it's a broader introspective evaluation on the modern shooter and the player's role in said genre. Prepared? Then read on.

 

Developer: Yager Studios

Publisher: 2K Games

Release Date: June 26, 2012 (out now)

Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

ESRB: M for Mature

 

This review is based on the PC version of Spec Ops: The Line.

 

"War is hell," said General William Tecumseh Sherman. It's a quote that modern shooters often toss about, but one which no video game has ever embraced the meaning of. Most developers glorify tearing hands, feet, and other limbs off of generic enemy soldiers with as much gore as humanly possible. Through the glorification of war in gaming, the meaning of life is cheapened with half a magazine of 5.56 ammo. In these war games, there are only heroes and villains, with the most morally-grey aspects of war reduced to cheap marketing tactics like Call of Duty's "No Russian" mission. Spec Ops: The Line has taken all of these tropes of the modern shooter and thrown them in my face with disturbing clarity. After playing, nay experiencing, Spec Ops, I may never play a shooter with the same mindless power fantasies ever again.

 

 

spec-ops-the-line-xbox-360-exclusive-multiplayer-beta-sign-ups-begin.jpg

 

The premise behind Yager's cover-based third-person shooter is almost mind-boggling simple and generic. A US Army commander by the name of Colonel John Konrad has led the Damned 33rd Infantry Battalion into Dubai to evacuate the populace from history's largest sandstorm. Players, taking the role of Captain Martin Walker, are to investigate Konrad's whereabouts and, if necessary, save the Colonel and his men. Spec Ops even leads you to believe that this generic premise is indicative of the entire experience with the opening helicopter pursuit sequence. The sense of deja vu is undeniable; I've been here, shot helicopters down with a mi***un, and done this turret sequence so many times before. Once you get to the ground, however, Spec Ops mutates into one of this generation's most morally, mentally, and emotionally taxing shooters. At the games conclusion, I was left battered and bewildered by everything I had seen. The conclusion only serves to make the games unsettling events that much more horrific. As much as it may have impacted me, Spec Ops is first and foremost a game, so is it any fun to play?

 

Spec-Ops-The-Line-Announced.jpg

 

To say Spec Ops is fun belies the game's contradictory, complicated nature. At every point during the campaign, I felt the juxtaposition of a shooter framework with a strong anti-war sentiment. In everything from the shooting to the graphic dialogue and horrific war crimes committed, I felt uncomfortable. Yager clearly intended this game to disturb and unsettle. Enjoyment and fun are not the words I would use to describe my experience with Spec Ops. I would describe my five-hour trip through hell as uncensored and raw, striking nerves the whole way through. Whether I was gunning down rogue American soldiers or deciding the fate of a CIA agent and a group of civilians, Spec Ops made it tough for me to want to continue playing. But I had to see it through. I had to see what shade of monster Walker was becoming.

 

While all of this may sound like I'm rambling, these thoughts are the predominant reason for my constant pursuit of Konrad and the truth. I had a hard time stomaching the thought of killing civilians and murdering countless US soldiers. While this may sound trite in lieu of "No Russian", believe me when I say the dead will haunt you throughout the campaign...and perhaps beyond. For every enemy you kill, you constantly ask yourself why you're shooting dozens of people. In all the chaos, Walker can only defend himself with ***ue notions of wanting to be the hero, of trying to be Dubai's savior. But what of us players? Why are we massacring virtual meatbags that scream for mercy, drag themselves on the ground missing limbs, meatbags that have casual conversations about sharing gum? Are we truly the desensitized monsters that men like Konrad have become? I wish I knew the answer.

 

specops1.jpg

 

By the time the credits roll, you'll wonder yourself whether Konrad was ever the true antagonist. No matter what choices you make, Walker still becomes a sa***e, ruthless killer. If you've seen Apocalypse Now, you understand just how insane war is. That madness is not lost on Walker or the two men he fights alongside with, Lugo and Adams. All three men experience the conflict differently, and all three will change from the people they began as. Does Spec Ops change the player as well?

 

In these reflective moments, the jarring reality that this is just a game readily becomes apparent. There is a constant barrage of achievements that applaud me for the decisions I did or didn't make. While it may not bother some, I felt like it broke the immersion when a pop-up announced I had 'crossed a line' or 'aimed high' on targets. Isn't this game supposed to be more than just a game? In some ways, being a shooter has ensured the full impact of Spec Ops will never be realized. Since we are simply playing a game, it only leaves lingering doubts in our minds once we put the controllers down. For many gamers, Spec Ops may never resonate with them in the same way that it struck my nerves. I sincerely hope, however, that they at least have an open mind to the horrors that await them beneath the sands of Dubai. If you can walk away unmoved by what takes place, you may already be more of a monster than any of the Damned 33rd or the Delta soldiers.

 

image.jpg

 

Mechanically speaking, Spec Ops is a fairly competent shooter. It plays a lot like Gears of War, where players take cover behind sturdy objects and use big guns against enemy targets. Where Spec Ops differs is in the flow of combat. There's a relentless push forward, a constant thrust urging players onward. That's carried over into the relatively quick kills and brutal executions that emphasize and reward speed. I found myself stressed and overwhelmed by constantly having to progress forward, fearing I would be quickly overrun if I cowered behind cover. I never felt like camping behind objects was safe as the enemy AI, however basic it can appear, always outflanked me and tore me to shreds. If I have one complaint, it's the quirky control scheme. Some of the buttons are mapped to more than one function, making it possible to sprint into cover when you actually meant to sprint around a target. The cover system, which people have also complained about, didn't really trouble me. Once or twice I was left exposed to enemy fire, but I didn't really feel like it was a major issue.

 

Spec-Ops-The-Line-008.jpg

 

The weapons themselves feel powerful and deadly. When I pulled the trigger, soldiers often crumpled or doubled over, coating the walls in red, messy spatters. It felt awful to gun down people who were likely as desperate as I was to survive. In the end, however, I had to regard the violence as a mercy upon my foes. The way they begged for help or clutched massive wounds didn't make it any easier for me to execute them. Even more disturbing was the fact that I was treated to additional (typically scarce) ammo for finishing them off, forcing me to do the deed. If Yager wants to bother players, this is a great way to do it.

 

The aforementioned squadmates, Lugo and Adams, are great companions on this trip to insanity. They offer constant tactical feedback and aren't bad shots themselves. They can be given a few commands to help alleviate Walker's pressure, but act independently for the most part. The banter between all three soldiers is always interesting, well-written, and appropriately frantic when things get absolutely FUBAR (and they really get bad). Players will likely recognize Nolan North's voice as Walker. I felt North did an admirable job taking on a much more mature character. Though the (sometimes gratuitous) swearing may offput some, I recommend you grit through it to see the shocking conclusion.

 

Spec-Ops-The-Line-Get-DLC-Co-Op-Missions-in-August.jpg

 

There's multiplayer in Spec Ops, but I recommend you skip it. The game works when the servers aren't being slammed, and there are some cheap thrills in modes like Chaos (free-for-all) and Buried. However, it's clear the singleplayer was the focus of development. I felt like the MP didn't carry the same weighty feeling of combat. It also lacked the emotional impact that the narrative hit home. If you purchase Spec Ops, stay for the campaign, not the compe***ive multiplayer.

 

The technicals behind Spec Ops are fairly strong. The visuals, though lacking when compared to games like Battlefield 3, are suitably gritty and do the job well. Some of the character models look great, and the ruined city of Dubai is beautifully rendered. When the dust kicks up from explosions and gunfire, the air is obscured and a tactical element is layered onto the shooting. The particles aren't just for looks; they can really come in handy when the defecation hits the oscillation. The audio is absolutely fantastic. With a fully-licensed soundtrack and some haunting musical scores, Spec Ops succeeds in mooding you out. Everything here is meant to unsettle you, and the soundtrack does an admirable job fulfilling this roles. As I mentioned earlier, the great dialogue is well acted. The sound effects are also great; they really add to the visceral impact of combat and the narrative. If you're expecting the next generation in A/V though, you'll be disappointed. Then again, if you're coming for that, you're not playing the right shooter.

 

spec-ops-the-line.jpg

 

Is Spec Ops the best shooter of 2012? Probably not, but that's for a reason. Spec Ops is a criticism of the modern shooter, taking the fundamental concept of the war game and inverting it. It may seem like a blatant copy of Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness, but don't be fooled; there are far more horrific things to experience in Spec Ops than you may expect. Prepare to have your moral and ethical codes challenged in this game, and always remember that not everything in Dubai is as it seems. But this you already know. The rest you'll just have to figure out for yourself. Welcome to Dubai, gentleman.

 

Pros:

 

+ Incredibly deep story, filled with hidden intel to unravel more of the mystery

+ Forces players to make a number of difficult choices at any given time

+ Great audio and a few beautifully rendered scenes set Spec Ops apart

+ The multiplayer is not the focus of the game this time around

 

Cons:

 

- The multiplayer is also incredibly barebones

- Some odd control bindings can cause trouble

- Occasional bugs and technical glitches here and there

 

Overall: 8.5/10

Great

 

Spec Ops is a great, mature third-person shooter that actually makes you regret the choices you make. A deep story is coupled with great dialogue to create an excellent campaign.

 

 

GIVEAWAY:

 

Want to win a Steam copy of Spec Ops: The Line? Simply tell me what you thought of Apocalypse Now and why you're excited to play Spec Ops. Winner chosen randomly on July 6th at 9 PM Eastern.

  • Like 2
Sign in to follow this  


21 Comments


Recommended Comments

It's been years since I saw Apocalypse Now, I thought Marlon Brando was kinda creepy in it. I have read Heart of Darkness too and I liked it. I'm excited to play Spec Ops: The Line because of its story, it sounds like you were really affected by it!

Share this comment


Link to comment

I didn't watch Apocalpyse Now, but I did read Heart of Darkness, which I liked as well. Also, I'm excited for Spec Ops: The Line because of the mature direction it's going, and the story as well. I would love to play a game based off of Heart of Darkness.

Share this comment


Link to comment

Being born in the mid 90's I saw Apocalypse Now waaayyy after it was released, but it was definitely worth it. A great movie, loved the intense music and violence.

 

I'm looking forward to playing this game because based on your review and what I read in others the game is much more focused on the story and not just running around and shooting everything. For me its Story > Gameplay > Graphics

 

Thanks for the chance to win!

Share this comment


Link to comment

I just loved how broken down everyone seemed. even when they were laughing or partying (or with those playmates) they were all happy, but deeply sad inside. that and almost everyone dies throughout the movie. which is always good when done right. the music was awesome too!

Share this comment


Link to comment

I didn't watch Apocalypse Now nor did I read Heart of Darkness, so I think I'll pass on this one. I don't mind intensely gory or shocking scenes in games but it's probably best if I let someone who already knows what the game is based on experience it themselves. Still, I like the game's very mature and serious theme, and this is very, VERY generous of you.

 

Thanks Loco! ;)

Share this comment


Link to comment

Wanted to start by saying nice review! Seems like you really enjoyed it. Unfortunately I have not seen Apocalypse Now, but I have read Heart of Darkness and I liked that it really did show a decent into madness, something Spec Ops seems to be doing (they even named the main character Konrad as a nod to Joseph Conrad!) I like that Spec Ops seems to place a heavy emphasis on story which is what keeps me playing a game.

Share this comment


Link to comment

My favorite part of Apocalypse Now is the drill sargeant bit at the beginning, and the general saying that he loves the smell of napalm in the morning. The rest of the film was pretty dark stuff. I'm excited to experience the Spec Ops moral dilemma myself.

Share this comment


Link to comment

My favourite part has to be the Napalm which was followed by the ever so famous line... "I love the smell of napalm in the morning".

 

I'm most looking forward to a tactical FPS rather than the usual run of the mill run and gun style of CoD. Having morals and ethics tested is always a good thing too, helps you feel more involved with the game.

Share this comment


Link to comment

The Movie was a very amazing example of how Sound Design and editing can create different atmospheres to the viewer. The part of the helicopters playing "The Ride of the Valkyries" made me get the chills and feel so powerful. I'am really excited to play this game to have similar experiences as the ones I had watching Apocalypse Now, also to have control over my actions and fast decision making.

Share this comment


Link to comment

While I did enjoy the movie Apocalypse Now, I didn't feel as though it really had too much significant meaning at the time. Maybe if I went back and watched it now I would be of a different opinion but at the time I just enjoyed it as I would any other movie!

 

I thought Spec Ops was "just another shooter" but the way you've been talking about it makes me wonder!

Share this comment


Link to comment

To be honest, Apocalypse Now is older than me by a decade so there wasn't a chance for me to watch it. By reading the plot of the film, it wanted the mind setting and expression of feelings of a soldier during that era of war.

 

I'm more of a tactical Third-Person Shooter like SOCOM. TEAMWORK WINS ALL.

Share this comment


Link to comment

I loved Apocalypse Now was fantastic, but I found the documentary about the making of the film even more interesting ("Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmakers Apocalypse"). It really helped me appreciate Apocalypse Now even more. I'm excited to play Spec Ops because I've heard it does some very interesting things with the Narrative. I play games for the stories primarily, and hearing that this does something unique with the moral/ethical nature as you mention makes me really want to check it out.

Share this comment


Link to comment

I didn't figure it out until recently that Apocalypse Now mirrors Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. It now makes sense.

Share this comment


Link to comment

I've only watched Apocalypse Now a couple years back. I honestly was impressed with the visuals and definitely the audio of the film. There are only a few films that grip you, and hold you in place. Then when it ends you're confused that it was just a movie.

 

As far as I can tell, a no mercy main character in a war torn world is always an interesting game.

Share this comment


Link to comment

I was pretty young when I watched Apocalypse now, I remember it being a good movie. I should really watch it again now that im old enough to understand it better. I know it's one of my fathers favorite movies.

 

I am pretty excited for Spec ops because I've always been a fan of third person shooters and squad based fighting.

The story looks really compelling and I've always enjoyed a really good single player over a multiplayer anyday.

 

Thank you for the giveaway.

Share this comment


Link to comment

In my opinion, Apocalypse Now was the best Vietnam film, and one of the greatest films of all time, because it delved into the darkest places of the soul. The movie was not about war so much as about how war reveals truths that we would be happy to never discover.

 

After reading your review and you relating it to Apocalypse Now, I want to play the game even more, because I want to visually experience what really goes on in warfare, and explore how a culture could present murder and torture as moral. Your review and the reference to Apocalypse Now has sparked a deeper interest and appreciation for this game.

 

Thank you for the giveaway and good luck to all the participants.

Share this comment


Link to comment

Never saw Apocalypse Now, but I did read Heart of Darkness, which I can't honestly say I entirely got (such is life when reading books for class instead of pleasure).

 

I don't have any interest in brown-and-bloom shooters, but your review and all the buzz I've heard about the game has my interest piqued. I'll play anything that has the promise of a good story, espcially one that can actually use gameplay to tell it instead of cinematic cutscenes.

Share this comment


Link to comment

I havnet seen Apocalypse now in awhile. But its quite a good movie. Im excited for spec ops the line because it looks like a good third person shooter game.

Share this comment


Link to comment

And the winner of a copy of Spec Ops is.....swipe_! Congrats! Check your private messages for the Steam key!

Share this comment


Link to comment

Sorry rolling into this discussion a little late. Congrats swipe on your giveaway win.

 

Sucks that you mention the multiplayer might not have had as much thought put into it as it could have, although of course MP comes completely secondary to a single player game. HHLivingLoco posted a review of this same game a while back and it looks really cool, although I've completely neglected to play the demo that was out. Seems like a very immersive game.

 

 

And on a side note, to quote from your article:

"It also lacked the emotional impact that the narrative hit home. If you purchase Spec Ops, stay for the campaign, not the compe***ive multiplayer."

 

Did the filter just star out part of the word that is also used to describe breasts? ODD! Or were you making a sly joke merging the four letter word for poo and competitive....

Share this comment


Link to comment

And on a side note, to quote from your article:

"It also lacked the emotional impact that the narrative hit home. If you purchase Spec Ops, stay for the campaign, not the compe***ive multiplayer."

 

Did the filter just star out part of the word that is also used to describe breasts? ODD! Or were you making a sly joke merging the four letter word for poo and competitive....

 

Oh, the censor did this, I'm afraid. But that will no longer be a problem. :D

Share this comment


Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×